Iraqi government approves expansion of Iran-linked Hashd Al-Shaabi militia
In a move that is the first of its kind since 2017, Iraq's government has allowed the coalition of militias - known as Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi in Arabic - to increase its size by 30,000 new members.
A high-ranking official close to the government, led by Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, told The New Arab’s Arabic language service Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the decision was due to pressure from the Fatah Alliance and the State of Law Coalition - both with strong ties to Iran.
Al-Kadhimi's government reportedly agreed to the expansion in exchange for the two parties' support of the government's budget plan.
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The move is viewed as undermining the authority of the federal government and increasing the power of Iraq's myriad militias, who are viewed as proxies for Iran.
Ahmad Hakki, a member of Iraq's Civil Movement, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the increase in the numbers of militia fighters highlights the PMF's continued political leverage.
"This move confirms the political, security, and even financial decisions in Iraq are not in the hands of the government, but rather in the hands of the forces," he said.
Currently, there are over 160,000 members of the PMF. It is comprised of 83 factions with at least 40 of them being directly linked to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Forces (IRGC).